Madison County considers new reservoir on White River

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Economic development officials are proposing a reservoir on the White River about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis that would be a catalyst for new investments and jobs and would include marinas, boat docks and restaurants.

"I think we have a good chance to get this project done if we have the political will," Rob Sparks, the Madison County Corporation for Economic Development director, told The Herald Bulletin.

Rob Freestone, a Chesterfield Town Council member said officials there are excited about the prospect. Town Clerk Deborah Dunham sees empty storefronts being replaced with thriving businesses. Throughout the area, many officials are at least interested in hearing more about the plan.

"At this point I am super positive about this," Anderson City Council President David Eicks said. "I think it has the ability to reshape Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and Delaware County."

Delaware County Commissioner Sherry Riggin called the proposed seven-mile long, 2,100-acre reservoir "very interesting," but said she's concerned about how relocations would be handled.

The Mounds Lake Reservoir would cost an estimated $300 million to $350 million to create. Sparks said the next step in the proposal process will be a series of public meetings for each of the affected taxing units. The meetings likely will be scheduled within 30 days, he said.

Sparks said in addition to spurring economic growth, the reservoir also could help relieve the impact of floods and drought through a 400-square-mile area of the White River's watershed.

Sparks estimated that it would displace about 400 homes, as well as several hundred thousand square feet of retail business space. Eminent domain could eventually be invoked to bring the project to fruition, but Sparks stressed that a strong community consensus is needed for the plan to succeed.

The owners of a mall and a restaurant that would both be displaced by the reservoir issued statements Friday in favor of the plan.

"This project has the potential to be a game changer for Anderson. We believe in Anderson and want nothing more than to see it prosper," said the Virgil Cook family, which owns the Mounds Mall.

The idea was first suggested by Ricker Oil Co. President and CEO Quinn Ricker during a Leadership Academy of Madison County class in 2010. Sparks was also a participant in that class. Ricker concedes he thought the idea was "nutty" when he first suggested it. But two weeks later, Sparks told him the concept, while massive, difficult and costly, was worthy of study.


  • It would be nice, but probably closer to 2-3 billion
    I lived in Pendleton most of my life and now I live in Anderson and don't know why peolple are against improvements. I think that the estimated cost is 1/10th of what it will really cost to properly remove the landfill, bridges, contaminated soil, and god knows what else has been dumped over the years. As far as people being relocated goes I drive through town and see hundreds upon hundreds of empty houses and just as many that need removed completely. If this project is going to happen and if the city of Anderson wants to bring anykind of class to this town, I would tear down the 3,000 plus abandoned houses that line just about every block of the city and set some standards of construction for those being relocated. I will pay for those who have a trailer in a flood plain to get to higher ground if it means I may have the oportunity to see this city get out of the death spiral that it has been in since the Auto Unions ran the good jobs out of town years ago. Change needs to happen people and I just hope to God this project goes through. What do you want Anderson? Ran down houses and trailer parks, or lake front views and an economy again??!!!!!
  • Reservoir
    I am going to be one of the homes that will be displaced and my family and I have thought long and hard about this since we first received a notice on our door. In the long run, we believe it will be a great thing for Anderson to do. The potential growth for this county that has been so hard hit from the auto industry leaving us has been really bad on Anderson. Water tests have been done and the water is okay. Why would any of you not be in favor of something that has potential to bring life back to Anderson?
  • Thanks
    Yes let's put so many people outta their homes!!!! Like we will just move and let you do this!!! Stupid idea period!!! Leave it to the rich to not think of the poor
  • Bad Idea
    I would like to know if anyone has has answers to the environmental impact this size of project would really have,your going to flood state road 109 @ rangeline rd not to mention flooding out,well lots of contanimated soil,like a auto salvage yard for one,and the mounds mall sits on a former land fill not to mention most all of the property south of the proposed shoreline would in fact be the property that General Motors contanimated,and then all of the families who'll be displaced because the state and county WILL envoke eminent domain, theirs no way that you can do this size of project for 400 million,lets say they build the 1 1/2 mile span 4 lane bridge to connect north anderson to south anderson,well it should be 2 miles if they go with an over pass at the rail road tracks, finally not to mention rangeline rd bridge?,then tearing down all those buildings and hauling it all out,and you have to properly dispose of contanimated soil,that means hauling it out until the soil tests clear,ya know what, the real impact will be on the families that are going to be displaced. IT IS, WHAT ,IT IS. A REALLY BAD IDEA.
  • sewage
    I am on mounds rd and i am on septic anderson didnt think about putting us on sewer try to charge me but sewer from trailor park they have it the pond down the rd is infested with god knows what sry dont make it up now anderson
  • ms
    u said three yrs ago that mounds rd would never have commercial license offered i applied u threw it out and please believe i have a witness
  • Seriously?
    Is this serious? I can't imagine this ever actually happening...and for good reason
  • Development Allowed, or CORP Lake?
    Would Development be allowed along the shores...or would this be controlled by the CORP?..where development along the shorelines is very restricted to mainly only Marinas?
  • Location?
    This proposal is all fine, but neither here or in other meida has a real location been mentioned. Is this north of I-69 west of SR32 towards Muncie, adjacent to Anderson, or downstream of Anderson, or where? Hard to comment otherwise.
  • Water quality
    Interesting idea, but I'm just wondering how much sewage is dumped into White River before it gets to this point, and how that would impact the attractiveness of the proposed reservoir.

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